"Artists can highlight how out-of-touch some of our politicians are in this space," Planned Parenthood acting president/CEO Alexis McGill Johnson tells Billboard. "They can hold up a mirror and say, [to quote] Marvin Gaye, ‘What’s going on?'"
Planned Parenthood has worked with musicians for years, but Johnson says that 2019 marked a turning point, where seemingly more artists want to be engaged with their efforts than ever.
"It’s incredibly powerful to see artists who not only recognize their role as influencers, and are personally searching for access to information to connect to their constituencies, but also to think about how to take it to the next step," she says. "What I love about this list of [artists] is how next-generation it is. It feels like we’ve turned a corner in stigma, when mainstream artists can use their platform to really call attention to what’s happening in our country."
The ever-outspoken Eilish, who is 17, is one of the younger artists on the list. "I’m proud to be standing up for Planned Parenthood as they fight for fair and equal access to reproductive rights," she said in a statement to Billboard. "We cannot live freely and move fully in the world when our basic right to access the reproductive health care we need is under attack. Every person deserves the right to control their body, their life and their future."
Also on the list of signees: T-Pain, Miley Cyrus, Nine Inch Nails, Dua Lipa, A$AP Ferg, Kacey Musgraves, Megan Thee Stallion, St. Vincent, Maggie Rogers, Troye Sivan, John Legend and Carole King.
Of course, the shift Johnson has noticed also reflects a new sense of urgency. So far in 2019, more than 300 bills restricting abortion access have been filed in states across the country, and 26 bans on abortion have been enacted. This week, a new Trump administration rule made it illegal for Planned Parenthood and other healthcare providers receiving federal funding through the Title X program to make abortion referrals. (Planned Parenthood has voluntarily left the program in response.)
In recent weeks, many artists have voiced support for abortion rights. Grande donated $250,000 in proceeds from a June concert in Atlanta to Planned Parenthood, while Travis Scott and Rogers have pledged merch sales from recent performances to the nonprofit. When Alabama passed a law criminalizing nearly all abortions in May, Rihanna tweeted a photo of the 25 lawmakers who had voted in favor of the bill -- all of them white men -- writing, "These are the idiots making decisions for WOMEN in America."
Johnson hopes the new campaign will build on the decades-old tradition of music as a powerful tool of protest.
"Music is storytelling," she says. "If you go back to the origins of movements for equality and freedom, and the very rights that control our bodies, it starts with telling stories about your own experience and then defying people [who] judge you."
See the full list of musicians standing in solidarity with Planned Parenthood here.